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EU Aquaculture Assistance Mechanism

Background information

Type of species farmed (Source: 2022, Analysis, Coordination and Statistics. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food - MAPA)  

Mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis), European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax), Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), Gilthead seabram (Sparus aurata), Turbot (Psetta maxima). Atlantic Bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus), meagre (Argyrosomus regius), sole (Solea senegalensis) and greater amberjack (Seriola dumerili). Oyster (Several species), Clams (Several species).

Type of production method (Source: 2022, Analysis, Coordination and Statistics. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food - MAPA) 

In 2022, 93,81% of Spanish production occurred in marine waters and 6,19 % in freshwater. The following main production methods were used: 

  • 70,92 % of production: on rafts and long-lines in marine waters 
  • 17,9 % of production: in cages in marine waters 
  • 9,51 % of production: tanks and raceways, both in freshwater and in sea and brackish waters. 
  • Almost 1% of production: in brackish intertidal salt marshes and mudflats  
  • Almost 1% of production: other methods (mainly recirculation systems and natural banks and cultivation parks), both in fresh, marine and brackish waters 

Sector’s size (production and consumption) (Source: 2022, Food Consumption Panel, MAPA) 

  • Production (2022): 272.985,69 Tn; 809.351 thousand € (2022, MAPA) 
  • Household consumption (2022): 19,19 Kg per capita 
  • and extra domestic consumption: 2,24Kg per capita (Food Consumption Panel, MAPA) 
  • % Variation in household consumption 2021/2022: 
  • -15,5% and % variation in extra domestic consumption 
  • –2,4% (Food Consumption Panel, MAPA) 

Trends (past and future) (Source: EuroFish) 

In recent years, the aquaculture industry has diversified into cultivating new species such as meagre (Argyrosomus regius), bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) and yellowtail (Seriola spp.). While cultured turbot (Scophthalmus maximus) is already a strong presence in the market.

Impact of aquaculture in the country’s economy, food market and labour market (Source: EuroFish; 2022, MAPA) 

  • The aquaculture sector is widely diversified in terms of species and farming technologies. Although, the trend has been towards consolidation in recent years, the industry is still dominated by small to medium-sized farms. 
  • Output from marine aquaculture comprises mostly shellfish, while 22,41 % of the total production is marine finfish. Mussel farming is by far the biggest sector of aquaculture in terms of production volume, representing 70 % of the total aquaculture output, with mussel aquaculture in Galicia the driving force. 
  • Sea bream and sea bass are the main finfish species produced. Rainbow trout is the main species in freshwater.  
  • Spain is one of the largest markets for fish and seafood in Europe. In recent years, the national average apparent consumption of fisheries and aquaculture products has been generally stable. More than half of this volume was consumed in the home. 

Challenges and opportunities (Source: MAPA) 


  • In marine aquaculture, the authorisation procedure is a complex procedure which on average can last 30 and 33 months on average in inland aquaculture. 
  • Lack of predictability and legal certainty. Predictability", understood as the consistent application of regulations and transparency in the decision-making process, is particularly critical for aquaculture activity with regard to the use of space, renewal of authorisations and the right to access water. 
  • Inefficiencies in the design of policies and strategies lead to difficulties in developing the activity, both in public and private actors. 
  • Limitations in knowledge of the best sites may compromise funding for the new projects and weaken the positioning of the activity in other management tools. 
  • Lack of legal and/or unclear procedures for the declaration of zones; low application of tools to reduce burdens and simplify procedures in the zones. 
  • Difficulties in maintaining traceability throughout the marketing chain. 
  • Low percentage of aquaculture producers associated to producer organisations. 
  • Difficulties for the correct positioning of aquaculture products in the markets. 
  • High economic impact due to animal diseases and insufficient knowledge on animal welfare. 
  • Lack of an integrated and global vision of environmental monitoring 
  • Complexity of the adaptation of the activity to the effects of climate change. 
  • Insufficient innovative potential of companies. Need for alignment between science-sector actions. 
  • Challenges in food and nutrition, animal health and welfare, genetics and physiology, diversification, engineering, management and aquaculture 4.0, environmental aspects, climate change, socio-economic aspects, quality, traceability and food safety. 
  • Lack of quality in the information produced due to mismatches between the information obtained and the real information needs. 
  • Low level of knowledge about the aquaculture sector among the general population. Need for more initiatives to communicate and promote aquaculture activity. 
  • Lack of confidence in the potential of aquaculture for local development and in the exploitation of synergies with other activities, which implies a loss of opportunities for diversification of income sources. 


  • The need to develop strategies to implement European policies, as well as the incipient incorporation of aquaculture in priority strategies in other areas, represents an opportunity to design effective and realistic strategies. 
  • Marine Spatial Planning for aquaculture can serve as a tool to support sectoral planning, improve legal certainty and contribute to the sector's growth expectations and job creation in aquaculture. 
  • The new traceability systems represent a great opportunity to facilitate the processes for producers and to improve the transparency and visibility of the administration's actions. 
  • The high level of per capita consumption of aquatic products in Spain offers the opportunity to make progress in the diversification of supply and the enhancement of the value of national products. 
  • The existence of different types of companies can allow very different products to be placed on the market and help Spanish aquaculture to face the different challenges presented by the internationalisation of markets and emerging markets. 
  • The increase in demand for sustainable and local products, together with the increase in consumption of organic products, are also an opportunity for producers. 
  • The financial support of the FEMP-FEMPA is a valuable tool to be able to face all the challenges that lie ahead. 
  • Regulatory developments in animal health or veterinary medicines, as well as tools for the surveillance of antibiotic resistance, will contribute to improve the health governance of aquaculture. 
  • Improved water quality monitoring tools, in the framework of the new hydrological planning, will be very useful for the improvement of water quality for aquaculture. 
  • The creation of the National Reference Centre for Animal Welfare can be a useful tool to improve knowledge and coordination between administrations and with the sector on fish welfare. 
  • Some modifications or improvements in the regulatory framework applicable to aquaculture can generate new opportunities to improve the sustainability of the activity. 
  • The Second National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change 2021-2030 will work specifically on the impacts and risks of climate change and the vulnerability of aquaculture activity, which will generate knowledge and facilitate access to the different actors. 
  • The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon Europe, as well as the Spanish Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2021-2027 offer an important opportunity to deepen research and innovation in aquaculture. 
  • National and regional administrations can use FEMPA funds to support investments in innovative solutions in the sector. 
  • European and national policies in the field of data collection aim at improving information exchange, simplification, data quality, transparency, and the use of statistics for policy design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. 
  • The EU plans to launch a coordinated communication campaign on the EU model of sustainable aquaculture throughout the EU, which is an opportunity to raise awareness of aquaculture. 
  • The use of new technologies for the transmission of information (electronic delivery notes, QR codes) will play a key role in improving information at points of sale. 
  • Making the most of the opportunities offered by communication tools (social media, campaigns, influencers, recognised opinion leaders) will help to improve the image of aquaculture and consolidate product consumption. 
  • Increased consumer awareness enables local aquaculture products to compete on the basis of quality, proximity and product safety. The incorporation of aquaculture into the food culture will allow the consolidation of the activity as a tool for the conservation of uses and customs. 
  • The incorporation of aquaculture in the Participatory Local Development Strategies of the Fisheries and Rural Local Action Groups is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the possibilities of the activity and to promote initiatives at local level. Funding is available under the EMFAF and EAFRD.

Employment and number of enterprises (Source: 2022, General Secretariat for Fisheries, SGP-MAPA) 

In 2022, 2.915 companies and public bodies operated in Spain (SGP-MAPA) and employment was 10.253 people (Statistics MAPA)

MNSP to develop sustainable aquaculture

Relevant Authorities

  • The organisation and management of aquaculture is an exclusive competence of the Autonomous Communities, as laid down in their Statutes of Autonomy and in the Decrees on the Transfer of Competences, in accordance with Article 148 (1.11) of the Constitution. The Autonomous Communities have legislation for the management and regulation of aquaculture activity, which includes the requirements for the approval of establishments and aspects relating to the management, monitoring and control of the activity (find relevant information here
  • On the other hand, the State, through the Directorate General for Coasts of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITERD), exercises competence to authorise the occupation of the publicly owned maritime and terrestrial domain, except in some Autonomous Communities such as Catalonia and Andalusia 
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA) through the General Secretariat for Fisheries (SGP), it is responsible for planning and executing policy on maritime fisheries in external waters and aquaculture, coordinating Community aquaculture policy and participation in international organisations. It is also responsible for planning, coordination and support for innovation in the sector, the planning of economic activity in the marketing and processing of products and relations with the competent international bodies in matters of foreign trade and fishing markets. 

Applicable Legislation

The organisation and management of aquaculture is an exclusive competence of the Autonomous Communities, which have rules for the management and regulation of the activity that include the requirements for the authorisation, monitoring and control of aquaculture establishments. In addition, there are many other non-specific requirements that are regulated in different areas: occupation and use of the public domain, marine spatial planning, hydrological planning, environmental assessment and monitoring, official control, animal health and welfare, water catchment and discharge, marketing and traceability of products, public health, collection of statistical data, etc.). 

  • Law 23/1984 on marine farming 
  • Law 22/1988 on Coasts 
  • Royal Decree 876/2014 approving the General Coastal Regulations 
  • Law 8/2003 on animal health 
  • Law 32/2007 for the care of animals, in their husbandry, transport, testing and slaughtering 

Applicable Procedures

  • Aquaculture activity authorisation (inland or marine aquaculture). 
  • General Register of Livestock Holdings (REGA) 
  • Inland aquaculture: 
  • Water concession: The substantive and processing body is the Hydrographic Confederation (CH) Water Authority, which collects ‘Prior report on compatibility’ 
  • Environmental procedure with an environmental impact study (less than 500 t) 
  • Environmental impact assessment, simplified or ordinary (more than 500 t) 
  • Planning and operating permits 
  • Animal health (report on the conditions of farming) 
  • Permission to discharge and occupy the use of public water (DPH) 
  • Marine aquaculture: 
  • Mandatory report for the Concession/Use of Public Domain: (as applicable): 

a) DP Maritime Land, broadcast by Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (MITERD) 

b) DP Port, which is granted by the relevant port authority (State Ports or Autonomous Community Port) 

c) For land-based establishments: authorisation is requested for the use of a protection easement area/occupation of the Public Domain 

  • Report on compatibility with the Marine Strategy issued by MITERD 
  • Environmental authorisation, which is granted by the environmental body of the Autonomous Community and which conditions the cultivation authorisation. This authorisation is treated as an environmental impact study, for projects of less than 500 tonnes; or with a simplified or ordinary environmental assessment if they are more than 500 tonnes or involves special environmental protection areas. 
  • Authorisation to discharge into the sea from land, issued by the environmental authority of the Autonomous Community. 
  • Reports or consultations with various bodies on defence, fisheries, tourism, maritime masters, spatial planning, provincial delegations, cultural heritage, municipalities, and others as appropriate. 
  • Consultations with other stakeholders (fisheries sector, NGOs, etc.). 
  • Marking authorisation. 
  • Building permit of the Municipality, if applicable. 
  • Animal Health Register, if applicable for crop species. 
  • Public Health Register, if applicable, for processing plants. 

On the other hand, when it comes to the cultivation of molluscs or other marine invertebrates, in the sea or in the maritime/terrestrial area, the activity must be carried out in authorised production areas covered by regional legislation and Order APA/798/2022 publishing the new lists of production areas for molluscs and other marine invertebrates on the Spanish coast. 

(Find relevant information here

National associations and networks

  • Spanish Association of Wholesalers, Importers, Manufacturers and Exporters of Fish products and Aquaculture (CONXEMAR
  • Spanish Aquaculture Business Association (APROMAR
  • Organisation of Galician Mussel Producers (OPMEGA
  • Galician Mussel Regulatory Council 
  • Spanish Federation of Aquaculture Health Defence Associations (FEADSA) 
  • Spanish Technological Platform for Fisheries and Aquaculture (PTEPA
  • Aquaculture Cluster (ACUIPLUS

Relevant Websites

Contact Details

Position held and name of the organisation: General Sub-Directorate for Aquaculture, Fishery Marketing and Structural Actions. 

Email address:  

Telephone number: +34 913473681 


Summary in English of the "Published National Strategic Plan on Aquaculture" for Spain
(477.01 KB - PDF)